The Hell Fire Club: the perfect setting for a great horror story

Jonathan Barry on his lifelong love of Gothic horror and his journey from illustrator to author

Jonathan Barry, right, at the main window in the central tower of the Hell Fire Club in May, addressing a protest of 500 people over plans for a visitors’ centre

Jonathan Barry, right, at the main window in the central tower of the Hell Fire Club in May, addressing a protest of 500 people over plans for a visitors’ centre

People often ask me how I made the transition from a book illustrator to an author and whether my experience as an illustrator of classic horror novels helpmed me in the writing and creation of my own gothic tale? The answer to the latter is, of course, yes, while the response to the former requires a little more explanation.

Ever since my childhood I have sustained a lifelong love affair with books, having been blessed to have grown up in a home filled with volumes from floor to ceiling. It is fair to say that books are my greatest passion, and as a teenager I discovered the delights of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla, two stories which had a profound effect upon my imagination. Other masters of the macabre came to my attention, including Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood and Ambrose Bierce. By the time I was 20 I had read most of the world’s best tales of terror.

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